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Albrecht of Brandenburg as Archbishop-Elector of Mainz (1544)

A notorious sybarite and pluralist, Albrecht of Brandenburg held the sees of Mainz and Magdeburg simultaneously. In order to pay off his debts to the Fuggers and to finance his arts patronage, Albrecht recruited Johann Tetzel to sell the indulgences that prompted Martin Luther to pen his 95 Theses in 1517. Thus, Albrecht became one of the reformer’s main adversaries. This woodcut portrays him in 1544, one year before his death. Albrecht’s various titles are listed at the top of the woodcut, and his coat of arms is depicted in the upper left corner. The document in his hands bears three seals and may in fact be a letter of indulgence. Woodcut by Niklas Stör (d. 1563), 1544.

Text: Albrecht by the Grace of God Archbishop of Mainz/ is Arch-chancellor and Elector for all of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and the Holy Roman Church’s priest of the church San Crisogoni/ Cardinal of Mainz and Magdeburg Archbishop primae in Germania/ administrator of the monastery of Halberstadt/ Margrave of Brandenburg.

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Albrecht of Brandenburg as Archbishop-Elector of Mainz (1544)

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